Cases of COVID-19 will likely continue to climb in Canada’s most populous provinces for a while even if people start to hunker down, experts say, because of the nature of the infection.
Epidemiologists look at the effective reproductive number of COVID-19, which describes how many other people an infected person will pass the coronavirus onto on average.
Public health experts like to see the value significantly below one so cases don’t snowball and spread out of control.
The effective reproductive number of COVID-19 in Canada continues to hover at 1.4, the Public Health Agency of Canada reported on Friday. That means for every 10 people who test positive for COVID-19, they’ll likely infect 14 others who then pass it on to 20 others and so on.
Christopher Labos, a physician in Montreal with an epidemiology degree, said the effective reproductive number also varies depending on the population in which a virus is spreading.
“If nothing changes, certainly it’ll keep rising and may even surpass a number of cases we had before,” Labos said.
The doubling time depends on how contagious someone is, the likelihood they’ll contact and infect another susceptible person and the frequency of contact.
But Labos said there’s another important factor: individual changes in behaviour.
“We probably will see rising case numbers in the next few days, maybe in the next few weeks. But if we take action now and control stuff, we might see this virus plateau before the end of the year. And that’s really what we’re trying to hope for.”
To that end, Quebec’s premier announced on Monday partial shutdowns in areas with high case counts, namely Montreal, Quebec City and Chaudière-Appalaches, south of the provincial capital.
“We see that our hospitals are in a fragile situation,” Premier François Legault said.
As of Thursday for 28 days, visiting those in other households won’t be allowed (with exceptions), restaurants will be serving delivery and takeout only and other gathering places such as bars, concert halls, cinemas, museums and libraries in the affected regions will close, he said
To explain why, Legault said protecting people in school communities, hospitals and long-term care homes are a priority.
Sacrifices required to change course
“None of this is a given. We can change the outcome,” Labos said. “It simply requires us to sacrifice a little bit.”
Nicola Lacetera, a behavioural economist at the University of Toronto, first studied compliance with physical distancing during the start of the pandemic in Italy. He found that the more frequently governments extended lockdown dates, the more disappointed the public tended to get, which could lessen co-operation.
“People say, ‘Well, I don’t know anybody who has COVID,'” Lacetera said. “From a statistical point of view, it makes no sense. But people tend to over-weigh what’s closer to them, like having known someone who got COVID.”
When the public can’t see the health consequences of COVID-19 directly in their daily lives then Lacetera said making hygiene, distancing and wearing masks more of a habit, alongside consistent messaging from different levels of government and communicating the science, could help.
Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, suggested “targeted” measures are under consideration. His Toronto counterpart, Dr. Eileen de Villa, called for new limits in restaurants on Monday, such as reducing the number of patrons from 100 to 75 and requiring establishments to collect contact information from those attending.
De Villa also said the extent of spread of the infection in the city means the concept of the bubble or a social circle “no longer reflects the circumstances in which we live.”
Jacob Wharton-Shukster said his Toronto restaurant would stay open until 2 a.m. before the pandemic. He voluntarily chose to close at 11 p.m. after watching what can happen elsewhere in the world late at night when people have been drinking alcohol.
“The numbers are doubling from last week, and this is all reasonably foreseeable,” he said. ” We would have had to have taken a mitigation strategy a month ago to see any result now.”
Epidemiologists agree, saying the effects of measures only become apparent two weeks down the road because of the lag when someone is newly infected, develops symptoms, gets tested and receives the result.
Source: – CBC.ca
Health officials to reveal latest projections for COVID-19 spread in Canada – CBC.ca
Federal health officials will release details from the latest COVID-19 modelling today that could indicate whether the caseloads are expected to continue rising or if efforts to flatten the epidemic curve are working.
Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam and Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo will reveal the projections at a press conference starting at 11:30 a.m. CBC News will carry it live.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will also be in attendance.
The last round of projections, released on Oct. 9, predicted the national caseload would climb to 197,830 by Oct. 17, with up to 9,800 deaths. The announcement came one day after the country recorded a record 2,400 new cases.
WATCH: Health officials reveal latest federal modelling on COVID-19
National numbers have since surpassed those projections. As of 11:20 a.m. ET on Friday, Canada had 230,547 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases, with 27,289 of those active. Provinces and territories listed 193,158 as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 10,100.
While the numbers on both hospitalizations and deaths have increased recently, they have done so at a slower rate than during the first phase of the pandemic.
Canadian economic growth cools to 1.2% in August – CBC.ca
The Canadian economy grew in August as real gross domestic product rose by 1.2 per cent in August, Statistics Canada reported Friday.
That marked the fourth straight month of growth following the steepest drops on record back in March and April amid pandemic lockdowns. August’s figure was down from the 3.1 per cent expansion seen in July.
The August number was still ahead of what forecasters had been expecting. According to financial data firm Refinitiv, economists had been predicting growth of 0.9 per cent for the month.
Despite the recent string of growth, overall economic activity is still about five per cent below February’s pre-pandemic level, Statistics Canada said.
September growth is forecast
Preliminary information from Statistics Canada indicates real GDP was up 0.7 per cent in September, with increases seen in the manufacturing and public sectors, as well as in mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction.
“This advanced estimate points to an approximate 10 per cent increase in real GDP in the third quarter of 2020,” Statistics Canada said. Back in the second quarter, the country’s GDP shrank by 11.5 per cent in the three-month period between April and June.
Assuming the economy contracts in October and November as a result of a resurgence of coronavirus cases, fourth-quarter GDP looks likely to undershoot the Bank of Canada’s “tepid” forecast for a seasonally adjusted annual rate of one per cent, said CIBC Capital Markets senior economist Royce Mendes.
“It appears that the economy was slowing more than expected heading into the fourth quarter, and the most likely outcome now suggests that GDP barely advanced during the period,” Mendes said in a commentary.
BMO chief economist Doug Porter said the way forward has been deeply clouded by the second wave and renewed restrictions, so growth will cool considerably in the fourth quarter.
“However, we suspect that with ongoing massive fiscal support, less restrictions than earlier, and, simply, that consumers and businesses have learned to operate in this new environment, the late-year setback should be relatively mild,” Porter said. “In fact, we continue to expect modest growth overall for [the fourth quarter].”
Federal government to announce new immigration targets today – CBC.ca
Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino will unveil a three-year immigration plan today that will set targets for bringing skilled workers, family members and refugees into Canada in the midst of a global pandemic.
Last year’s plan promised to bring in more than one million immigrants over a three-year period, but the COVID-19 crisis and the resulting travel restrictions have slowed down the process. Mendicino said the government remains committed to welcoming newcomers as a way to keep Canada’s economy afloat.
“We believe strongly in building Canada through immigration. Immigration is helping us get through the pandemic, and will be the key to both our short-term economic recovery and long-term prosperity,” he said in a press statement to CBC News.
“That’s exactly why we need to continue with measured, responsible growth to drive Canada’s success into the future.”
The immigration level plan is expected to be tabled in the House of Commons at about noon ET, and Mendicino is scheduled to hold a news conference in Ottawa at 12:30 p.m. ET.
Traditionally, Ottawa’s goal in immigration policy has been to attract top talent in a competitive global market while reuniting families and offering refuge to people displaced by disaster, conflict and persecution.
In its last three-year plan, the federal government sought to bring in 341,000 immigrants this year, 351,000 next year and another 361,000 in 2022.
Focus on labour gaps, says C of C
Leah Nord, senior director of workforce strategies and inclusive growth for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, said the world has changed a great deal since those targets were set. However the government chooses to set its immigration targets in today’s new policy, she said, it will have to focus squarely on matching economic migrants to worker shortages in various sectors and regions of the country.
Despite changes in the labour market and a major spike in the unemployment rate since the onset of the pandemic, gaps in the market remain, Nord said — and immigration will continue to play a large role in filling persistent labour shortages.
“We’re in this rather strange situation where we do have higher unemployment rates than we’ve seen for a number of years. Before the crisis there were record low unemployment rates. Now, they’re tipping towards the other end,” she said.
“But we still have a situation where there are still job vacancies and jobs that need to be filled across the country. Immigration can play an important role in diversity and economic growth, but also in filling labour market gaps, for sure.”
The government’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth recommended that Canada boost its annual immigration levels to 450,000 by 2021 to stimulate the economy and tackle the twin labour market problems of an aging population and a low birth rate.
Conservative immigration critic Raquel Dancho said that whatever the Trudeau government announces today, it must have a concrete plan for bringing people safely into the country during a pandemic and for integrating them into Canadian society.
She said the backlog of applicants has grown during the pandemic.
“The immigration system has not been well-managed, I think to say the least, in the last eight months. So I will be looking for some sort of plan for how they’re going to improve it,” Dancho said.
“The number can be whatever it’s going to be, but unless they bring forward a plan for how they’re going to change course and get better at processing immigration applications, it’s really all for nothing.”
Dancho said Canadians must have a clear explanation of how immigration targets will meet Canada’s labour needs while upholding its humanitarian commitments.
NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan urged the government to increase its capacity to help vulnerable people in need of protection in Canada, noting that persecution abroad has not stopped during the pandemic.
She said Canada also should give permanent residence status to people who want it and are already in the country, such as temporary foreign workers and international students with job offers.
“Canada can, in fact, take a true humanitarian approach by regularizing all those immigrants and refugees and undocumented people,” she said.
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